Basic Roamer Internet Table-Top Rally Championship 2012

Bulletin 30 (18 June 2012 @ 11:30)

I've updated the Championship positions and you can see these here.

Don't forget ... the Schoolfrenz Rally starts on July 23 @ 22:00. Gavin Rogers is currently working on how he will keep you busy inside rather than enjoying the sun(?) outside.


Bulletin 29 (27 May 2012 @ 21:00)

Just a reminder...

Closedown on Monday:

You will not be able to Login after 22:00 (UK Time). If you are still logged in 22:00, route saves and submissions will be inhibited.
There will then be a quiet period of about five days while the CoC, Chris Towers, re-checks his and your solutions, and re-visits your comments.
When he's done, I shall declare the results as provisional. You will then have seven days to review the master solutions against your own and raise any final queries before the results become final.


Bulletin 28 (25 May 2012 @ 12:00)

Note: The solution for Route Card 9 was changed at 12:00 on May 25.
If you Re-Did your route until it was marked OK, leave it. New attempts will require the corrected (shorter) route.


Bulletin 27 (24 May 2012 @ 13:00)

Route Card 9 has been made into a Re-Do due to an error (now corrected) on the original.

Route card 8: The location for PC23 had incorrect gecoding in Google Earth and has been moved. Those affected will have their route solutions re-marked.


Bulletin 26 (14 May 2012 @ 22:00)

Matters have been delayed this end due to losing an argument with a debilitating bug that has kept be mostly in bed and incommunicado. Now slowly playing catch-up, so if you've raised a query I still have five day's worth to process. Apologies for lateness.

I've got Route Cards 10, 11 and 12 now and I'll be uploading these before the night's out.

BTW, sadly I've caught a few people trying to cheat by changing their route and re-submitting after receiving their results feedback. Sorry guys, that doesn't work - your revised solution/marking gets discarded.


Bulletin 25 (09 May 2012 @ 23:00)

I've moved PC8 on RC3 and will remark those that missed it. Google Maps encoding around Beacon Fell Country Park is distinctly strange and won't allow you (easily) to take the shortest route.


Bulletin 24 (09 May 2012 @ 17:15)

There are still some competitors' solution and Google Maps route issues outstanding to review. Apologies for lateness - sidetracked a little by family matters.

I have added a long-awaited feature on the Route Status Page - you can now examine your route after you've submitted your solution.

There was a fault in the plotting routine that didn't detect a save was necessary when you adjusted your route but not your layout. Now fixed.


Bulletin 23 (07 May 2012 @ 14:15)

A few solution and Google Maps route issues resolved and competitor's answers re-marked.

A clarification on Route Card 4 means that this is now ReDoable.

Note: During busy Internet periods the background route generated by Google Maps may be slower than AutoP(i)lot expects. There is an in-built delay before the route is drawn, but if this is exceeded you may get straight lines instead of road-following lines. If this happens wait a few seconds and then re-mark or re-drag your points.

The above has eaten into my time to format and upload the remaining Route Cards. Working hard here to make them available as soon as possible.


Bulletin 22 (04 May 2012 @ 10:15)

Duplicate Google Maps points are now eliminated when marking solutions.

Error found in Route Card 2 master route and affected competitors' solutions re-marked.


Bulletin 21 (02 May 2012 @ 0:30)

The automatically generated points that AutoP(i)lot extracts from Google Maps are sometimes duplicated which mucks up the marking software. This means that occasionally PCs are erroneously recorded as missed e.g. PC6 on Route Card 1. I'm on the case.

When I've found a solution I'll re-submit the route for affected competitors/Route Cards. You'll see a new acknowledgement come through flagged as "Crow Re-submission".

Bear with me.


Bulletin 20 (29 April 2012 @ 01:00)

Back with you.

The Regulations and Practice Marking a Route pages have been updated to reflect how the Panglossian Rally will run.

Key points are:
1) The use of AutoP(i)lot for the majority of your map marking. Read in particular how you mark/delete/insert/move points and how AutoP(i)lot fills in your route.
2) No "timing" at TC2. If everyone follows the same route by AutoP(i)lot then total distances will match the ideal.
3) The introduction of "Regularity" sections as a means of (perhaps) adding seconds to your penalties.
4) Longer (more intricate) sections now that you have less "clicking".

When the event starts on Monday at 10pm (UK time) the first six Route Cards will be available. The last six will be published approximately one week later.

Route Card 0, for you to practice AutoP(i)loting will be available from around 7pm on Monday.

Lots of midnight oil has been burnt in preparing the Panglossian Rally. I hope you enjoy.


Bulletin 19 (20 April 2012 @ 21:00)

It's now busier than expected at the Crow's Nest due to the premature arrival of my first grandchild! One week earlier than expected I will be pre-occupied for some days to celebrate with and support my eldest daughter Caroline and baby Rose.

Since I need to be at home to press the Go buttons at the start of an event, I hope you will understand my decision to delay the Panglossian Rally by exactly one week. The event will now run from April 30 to May 28.

Apologies. Back with you soon.


Bulletin 18 (17 April 2012 @ 23:00)

It's getting busy at the Crow's Nest in preparation for the Panglossian Rally starting next Monday, particularly after my week's walking/geocaching/unwinding-from-TTR break in West Sussex.

There's still some final tuning to accommodate the AutoP(i)lot changes and new timed-to-the-second (TTTS) sections. Everything will be ready, although the updates to Practice Marking a Route and Regulations possibly won't be available until Sunday.

Chris Towers has prepared the Route Cards for the Panglossian Rally and has had the luxury of working within the more relaxed framework of AutoP(i)lot. I've decided to keep to the same method of results i.e. the best 10 of 12, but expect the Route Cards to be a bit tougher so that the field can be spread out.

Belated congratulations to the class winners on The Nearest FarAway Place Rally: Gavin Rogers, Paul Megretton and Colin Smith. They have received their prizes of the novel of the same name and also a few rally based greetings cards designed by Mrs Crow.

I've currently banned new registrations on the TTR Forum. I've been getting about a dozen inappropriate attempts at registration a day from randoms whose intention (based upon previous experience) is to post messages about selling dodgy items. If you want to join please email me directly and I will set up an account for you.


Bulletin 17 (25 March 2012 @ 00:10)

Probably the last Bulletin before The Nearest FarAway Rally closes on Monday, March 26 at 22:00. Closedown procedures are below, but first some statistics.

There has been a huge 210 bona fide registrations of which 155 paid their entry fee; this equates to over 3,000 generated for our charity the Multiple Sclerosis Society. I hope those that haven't paid will join us for Round 2.
THANK YOU for your support.

By the time the competition closes I will have received around 3,000 route submissions (including ReDos). I have read every one of your comments and where there were any problems not of your own making, you should have received advice from me direct. Apologies if I missed anyone out and thanks for your patience early on when browser mal-configurations made route marking difficult.

I am staggered how diligent and accurate many of you have been. There is only a few "seconds" separating the top twenty or so and it looks like "furthest cleanest" as a tie decider will be used a lot. Not ideal and much thought will be required for the next round when "clicking accuracy" should become irrelevant with the advent of AutoP(i)lot filling in the roads for you.

Closedown on Monday:

You will not be able to Login after 22:00 (UK Time). If you are still logged in 22:00, route saves and submissions will be inhibited.
There will then be a quiet period of about five days while I re-check my and your solutions, and re-visit your comments. In particular I shall carefully examine the shortest course of the "timed to the second" sections  since they will be crucial in deciding the outcome of the event.
After this I shall declare the results as provisional. You will then have seven days to review the master solutions against your own and raise any final queries before the results become final.


Bulletin 16 (15 March 2012 @ 00:01)

Be nice to me today - it's my birthday.

The Shape of Clicks to Come

Lots of activity out there and the Crow has been busy in his Nest too.

Here's the (new) marked route for Route Card 0. Notice anything different? Just 13 points to define the whole route (instead of the 234 on the current solution)!?

OS 1:50000 maps and street maps are very pretty, but they have no background intelligence. They are known as raster maps, just images with markings to depict geographical features.
So the map marking system you have been using has to rely on you clicking points to follow the exact course of the roads you use in your Route Card solution.
Sometimes this can be onerous, which is why I introduced the "relaxed marking" concept.

Vector based maps, like Google Maps, are digitally composed and include, most importantly for route planning, fine details of the course of roads and some tracks.

When I planned this year's TTR Championship a key objective was to base the series on OS maps. After all, being a (predominantly) UK based competition, rally people know and love the visual detail and accuracy of the OS maps they use on events. Navigating via Google Maps in your car doesn't quite fit to me.

What if you could combine the familiarity of OS maps  with vector-based intelligence to allow route planning/following capabilities?

It's coming with AutoP(i)lot.

This map was marked using AutoP(i)lot, a new TTR development which is currently being trialled.

No more details yet, but I am burning the midnight oil to roll this out for Round 2. So hold off your visit for an eye test or to the RSI clinic, significantly reduced clicking may be on the short-term horizon.



Bulletin 15 (13 March 2012 @ 01:30)

Route Cards 5 and 6 have just been remarked for all competitors due to an error in the master solutions.


Bulletin 14 (10 March 2012 @ 22:15)

I've been wondering why there are so many competitors who haven't got a clean sheet on Route Card 1 yet with their ReDos. I've peeked at the routes and the most common error is following the path of white roads when they shouldn't be. There should only be a single tramline joining where the white road route starts to where the white road route finishes.
Still plenty of time for another ReDo.

I've had a few instances where competitors have laboured marking their route and then forgotten to Save. From tomorrow, if you've made changes and not saved you will receive a Pop-Up Message giving you a second chance.

There are several major and minor developments in the pipeline. If you have need for a particular feature, why not start a thread on the Forum to gain support for your idea.


Bulletin 13 (09 March 2012 @ 09:00)

As of this morning we have reached 200 registrations! Not all have paid to to take part, but around 150 have, so this is great news for the health of Internet table-top rallying and for the benefitting charity. THANK YOU.

There is an error in the master solution for Route Card 6 for PC6. When the re-marking software is ready and run some of the penalties will be adjusted.

Talking of which ... Have you looked at the Best on Route Card tables in the results? These now show a detailed breakdown of competitors' penalties.


Bulletin 12 (05 March 2012 @ 17:00)

I've been away for the weekend geocaching in Kent to take a break from the recent intense activity on the Nearest FarAway Place rally. Almost 1000 route submissions so far, including many of you taking advantage of the Re-Do feature until you get the route right.
I've been busy reading your comments and catching up with forum postings. It's taken ages, but I think I've addressed all comments that needed a response; if not, let me know.

Congratulations to Fred Gallagher who was first to finish, and also to Keith Cunningham, both of whom have got round with so few penalties.

I've added some advice regarding ideal placement of the finish TC to "Practice Marking a Route".

Some competitors had reported odd behaviour when marking points on a route, particularly if the browser window size was smaller than the map size,  or after window re-sizing or scrolling. This has been a devil to pinpoint. Only after deep Google searching did I find faults reported in IE, Firefox and Chrome in how they handle certain aspects of refreshing browser windows. Workarounds have now been programmed so I hope this annoyance has finally been dealt with.
[Not quite apparently. When running IE9, from the Menu choose Tools > Compatibility View and ensure this is ticked]

There's is a bug in Chrome which prevents printing of Route Cards. A workaround has been posted in the TT forum if you need it.

The "Tile Limits" mentioned in Bulletin 11 is still a potential issue. At the peak yesterday the usage reached over 75,000 although so far this hasn't stopped map tiles being displayed - maybe Ordnance Survey have responded to my request for concessions. If you start marking your route when then limit is close (within 500) you will now see a pop-up warning. To be safe when this happens you should save your route and try again later (after midnight when the usage is reset to zero).

Many haven't started yet, in fact over half of the registered entrants, which includes over 50 who have seemingly elected not to pay to formally take part - shame. If you have paid and your name still shows as red on the list please let me know.

BTW 2000 has now been paid to the Multiple Sclerosis Society. THANKS.


Bulletin 11 (28 February 2012 @ 22:30)

Tile Limits!

My Ordnance Survey developer licence for the Table-Top Rallying site limits the number of map tiles (roughly 1km by 1km) displayed in a 24-hour period to 65,000. Thereafter (until midnight when the count starts again) map data may be missing.

The limit has been reached today (well, it has been rather an exceptional period of activity) but will refresh in 90 minutes. So sometimes you may have to do something else other play with maps until the following day.

I will be adding "near limit" warnings to the software so that you have time to save your work before the maps go blank.

To increase the daily limits means paying for an extended licence. I don't want to go there yet, so there may be periods where you may have to stagger your map marking.

Thanks for your patience.


Bulletin 10 (28 February 2012 @ 19:00)

Aren't you glad there's a ReDo?

Some good feedback from you already. Many are making (excessive!) use of the new ReDo feature as you hone your map marking skills. Best get that sorted now before you hit the non-ReDo Route Cards.

You don't have to repeat your comments from submission to submission. New comments are automatically added to previous comments.

Your first non-zero Ranking of a Route Card will be retained, so re-submitting just 0 (zero) won't change anything. However, if your do want to change your Ranking enter a new positive value.

Freeze Option

There's been some finger and/or clicking trouble. Not everyone is adept at clicking on the map (although you are getting better with practice), mostly caused, I believe, by shaky hands inadvertently dragging the map rather than a precise click. So, I've added a new feature on the Plot Route page.

Top right there is a Freeze checkbox. If you check the box, dragging the map with your mouse will be disabled. This will allow you to merrily click and drag points without a (possible) map dragging getting in the way. This may speed up route marking for some of you. You can still pan/scroll the map up, down, left and right with the keyboard arrow keys.
When you uncheck the Freeze box map dragging by mouse will be re-enabled.


I see all the comments that go with your route submission (from the confirmation emails) and will react when appropriate. The Freeze Option idea came from your comments..
If you report oddities about your route marking I may login as a super-user and look at your solutions. I won't change anything but it will allow me to establish whether there are any common faults which I can address.


Bulletin 9 (27 February 2012 @ 02:00)

21 hours until the start and 181 Entries.

One more change. Certain event Route Cards, like Route Card 0, will be flagged as ReDo. This means that you may re-plot and re-submit your solution as many times as you want. No excuse to get penalties on these?!
For the Nearest FarAway Place Rally Route Cards 1, 2 and 4 will be so designated.

I still have two untraceable bank transfer payments for entry fees. Might these be you?
1) 20 - reference: 0331/606 604 467.
2) 20 - reference: Richard Malcolm.

A reminder that if your entry fee hasn't been paid you won't be able to access the event Route Cards.

Good Luck.


Bulletin 8 (22 February 2012 @ 23:30)

Almost ready and 170+ Entries!!

I am overwhelmed by the record response and extra thanks to those who have overpaid their entry fee/donation.
I've already transferred 1,500 to the Multiple Sclerosis Society and if everyone commits to a formal entry, with sponsorship the final total will be around 3,500. Amazing - Thank You.

Thank goodness for CyberCrow. That's the automated software that will be marking your map solutions. Without it March 2012 would have been extraordinarily hectic having to compare your routes to the master solution.

Some of you will remember the postal map marking events of 20+ years ago, where competitors had to solve all the route cards, tramline the routes on a single OS map and post for marking. As an organiser receiving a 100 or so maps and then having to check them by hand was a full-time task for several weeks. It's why table-top rallying evolved into route check questions, first by post and then by email with the spread of Interest usage.

Now map marking is back and CyberCrow will now do the job in seconds and give you instant results.

The tips given in Map Marking Questions and Answers have now been incorporated into the Practice Marking a Route page. The Regulations have also been slightly updated.

Other changes will arrive before The Nearest FarAway Place Rally starts.

1) The displayed maps will be "clean" i.e. the navigation tools will be removed and the OS copyright will be off map.

2) The default tramlines will be slightly wider to cover more of a marked road. Style 9 a narrower black line for those that prefer drawing a line inside the roads.

3) A new feature will be added when you are marking your route. If you want to hide your route as well as the markers (maybe to inspect a map feature which might be obscured by your tramlines) hold down the Pause/Break  button. Release to re-display the markers and route.

4) the concept of Relaxed Marking will be introduced. On some "twisty road" Route Cards (or parts of Route Cards) you will be asked to mark your route by simply joining features you visit e.g. click at each junction you visit rather than attempt to follow the course of the road. On such sections the undisclosed PCs will be placed on the straight lines joining these points, not necessarily on the roads.

The Nearest FarAway Place Rally will now start an hour later than stated at 23:00 GMT on Monday, February 2012. Apologies for the delay but I will be out in the early part of the evening and not at my PC to press the GO button.

Around 23:00 all the Route Cards with suddenly appear on the Route Card Status page. You will be able to view or print the maps before starting a Route Card, so your first task might be to download all the PDF maps and print them. Remember that the printed maps are handy for route planning, but the displayed maps will give you the finer detail you will need for plotting.

You won't be able to start Route Card 1 until you've at least opened the practice Route Card 0. What you should really do is keep plugging away at RC0 until you have zero penalties so that you get the hang of marking a route.

When you've submitted RC1, you'll be able to start RC2 and so on.

If you have any general questions about The Nearest FarAway Place Rally, please post them to the appropriate Forum. I will answer (but not necessarily immediately), or other competitors might choose to answer. Do not post any specific comments or questions about the Route Cards, such messages will be deleted or answered with "No Comment".
I will not answer any direct email enquiries.

Get ready. Just five days to go.


Bulletin 7 (13 February 2012 @ 23:30)

134 Entries and still growing.

Take a look at the new page Map Marking Questions and Answers. It deals with the feedback I have received regarding your practice with Route Card 0, and contains some useful commentary.

Your entry fees/donations continue to flood in so I have transferred another 500 to the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

I am pleased to announce that like the 2010 Championship I will have significant help later in the year with Gavin Rogers  steering Round 3 of the Championship and Iain Tullie steering Round 4. Their offers to help are extremely welcome.

Just two weeks now until Round 1 - keep practising until you have zero penalties on Route Card 0.


Bulletin 6 (10 February 2012 @ 00:10)

It's a Record! 122 Entries now.

Lots of feedback regarding marking your solutions on a map. Your comments haven't gone unnoticed. I will be preparing a Q&A page soon which will answer all the questions you have raised.

I currently have three untraceable bank transfer payments for entry fees. Might these be you?
1) 40 - reference: 0499/604 311 655.
2) 20 - reference: 0331/606 604 467.
3) 20 - reference: Richard Malcolm.


Bulletin 5 (4 February 2012 @ 21:00)

UNBELIEVABLE. 102 Entries now!

So many of you have paid already that I have just transferred 500 to the Multiple Sclerosis Society. 2010 was our record year with 120 entries. Surely we will beat that now.

Please encourage your fellow map and navigation enthusiasts to enter.

Thanks for your support.


Bulletin 4 (31 January 2012 @ 21:30)

73 entries now. The response has been tremendous. Thanks.

Many of you have paid already and apologies if your name still appears in red on the entry list. Most of the bank transfers have been coming through without an indication of who is paying.
If you have paid and are still "red" could you email me with the date, amount paid and any reference details. Someone also sent me 40 - did you pay for two?


Bulletin 3 (31 January 2012 @ 01:30)

I've just taken a peek at a few of the early marked solutions for Route Card 0. Looks like most of you have quickly adapted to clicking on the map. One observation, however.

When you are clicking your points, do this at the highest resolution possible - what I call Zoomed Street Map - push the scroll wheel on your mouse forwards, use the zoom tool in the top left of the map or press the + key.
By all means do your rough route marking at the 1:50000 scale, but then refine it at the zoomed level to get as close a fit as possible to the course of the roads; just like the example in Practice Marking a Route.

If you want to see how others are fairing penalty-wise on Route Card 0, here's a link to take you to the Results Page.


Bulletin 2 (30 January 2012 @ 22:00)

AMAZING! Over 40 entries already and the entry list has been open for less than a day! Many thanks for your support.

Comments regarding your Route Card 0 map marking experience are arriving and I will respond to them en bloc as soon as possible.

In the meantime please share your general thoughts on the TTR Forum for the benefit of debate with other competitors.


Bulletin 1 (29 January 2012 @ 00:00)

Future Bulletins will contain updated information regarding the events and Championship.